Canal Street Online Manchester

Luke Spiby reviews "Dots" by Nearly Skulls

Nearly Skulls is a mysterious Manchester-based three-piece delivering (as they themselves call it) ‘high-energy pop-rock’. Much of the mystery surrounding the band is perpetuated by its members, who portray themselves as skulls and even go so far as to stress that they may not be using their real names. 

The names they have provided are: ‘Andy’, who plays both guitar and bass; ‘Paul’, vocalist and guitarist; and ‘Dean’, on drums. Between them they have a large range of influences, many of which you can clearly hear in their sound - from musical arrangements reminiscent of The Who and U2 to more subtle elements from bands of seemingly disparate genres such as Def Leppard (prog. glam) and Anthrax (metal). Evidently these mystery musicians have both a deep knowledge of music and a true mastery of their instruments. 

The band’s recent single, “Dots”, which was released in May, consists of an ethereal guitar riff that rings high over a simple rock accompaniment, packaged together with catchy lyrics that contain a thought-provoking message. The oft-repeated chorus states ‘I’m a dot, you’re a dot; we’re just dots’, which could easily be a metaphor for the periodic elements that are the building blocks of everything we are and know. In other words, there is truly nothing that separates us when it comes to the most fundamental levels of what it is to be human - we’re all made from the same materials; look closely enough and we all look the same.

There is also the common theme of colour throughout, usually relating each colour to its familiar connotation, like ‘red is for angry...’, and later ‘red is the blood…’ However, in the second verse the lyrics interestingly subvert common expectations: ‘green for stop, red for go; pink for boys, blue for girls; black for good, white for bad...’ This is likely an attempt to highlight how our associations with these colours merely stem from human perception and not from objective truth.

Overall, “Dots” is an upbeat and addictive song from an enigmatic and exciting upcoming band that clearly has a penchant for intrigue. Although their online following is currently surprisingly small, it is inevitably only a matter of time before support for Nearly Skulls grows.

As for the true identities of ‘Andy’, ‘Paul’ and ‘Dean’, the only clue we have is that they completed a previously successful US tour in a former incarnation.Yet to throw us off the scent further, they tease whether they’re a masked supergroup, twisted teenagers, or dangerous pensioners. We are promised that at least some of the dots (pun intended) will be joined by the time their debut album, Bucket Listening, is released on July 30th; until then we must simply speculate. 

The music video for “Dots” can be found on Nearly Skulls’ YouTube page, as can the video for their latest single, “American Rules”, which was released on July 4th. 

Published: 9-Jul-2020 (5933)

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